USS Porter (DD-356)

USS Porter (DD-356) was the name ship of the Porter class of destroyers, and fought at the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, where she was accidently sunk by a torpedo dislodged from a crashed American aircraft.

The Porter was laid down on 18 December 1933 at the New York Shipbuilding Corp, launched on 12 December 1935 when she was sponsored by Miss Carlile Patterson Porter and commissioned on 25 August 1936.

Above-front view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island Above-front view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island

The Porter was named after David D. Porter, who served in the US Navy during the Mexican War and the American Civil War, most notably helping Grant to capture Vicksburg in 1863 and taking Fort Fisher, North Carolina, early in 1865.

Horacio Rivero Jr, who held high rank in the Navy in the 1960s, served as her first First Lieutenant and Assistant Gunnery Officer, helping fit her out and holding both posts from August 1936 to June 1938.

Her shakedown took her to northern Europe. She then visited St John’s, Newfoundland, to take part in ceremonies held in honor of the coronation of George VI in May 1937, and the Washington Navy Yard to take part in the Boy Scout Jamboree of June-July 1937. She was then assigned to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at San Francisco on 5 August 1937. Her home port for the next few years was San Diego.

On 21 March 1939 the commanding officers of Destroyer Division Three were photographed on her deck while the Porter was at Quantanamo Bay.

In the autumn of 1941 she underwent an overhaul at Mare Island, which was complete by 4 November, when she was photographed with a new FC radar antenna on the main battery director, and the fittings for an SC radar antenna on the mast (although no antenna).

By the start of December 1941 the Porter was back at Pearl Harbor, but on 5 December she left harbour as part of Task Force 12 (Lexington, Chicago (CA-29), Portland (CA-33)Astoria (CA-34), Porter (DD-356), Drayton (DD-366)Flusser (DD-368) and Lamson (DD-367)), which was ferrying aircraft to Midway. She thus missed the attack on Pearl Harbor by two days.

From 8-12 December the Porter patrolled with Task Force 11 (made up of Task Force 12 plus the Indianapolis and Destroyer Squadron 1).

Above view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island Above view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island

On 8 December the Porter and Portland (CA-33) were detached from the main force to search for a missing aircraft. While they were alone they were identified as being Japanese by a lone PBY Catalina that was on its way from Johnston Island to Pearl Harbor. The Catalina attacked the two American ships, which in turn reported being attacked by the Japanese. Fighters from the Lexington rushed to the scene and fired on the Catalina before everyone worked out what was going on. Luckily nobody was injured in the chaos.

On 12 December Porter, Lamson and Mahan left the task force to return to Pearl Harbor.


The Porter spend the next few months patrolling in Hawaiian waters. She then departed for the US west coast on 25 March 1942 as part of a convoy escort. She then spent four months operating with Task Force 1, off the US west coast.

Stern view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island Stern view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island

Towards the end of this period she underwent an overhaul at Mare Island, which was probably complete by 10 July 1942 when she was photographed at the base with changes circled. These included some minor changes on her mast, and extra carley floats by the rear deckhouse.

The Porter returned to Pearl Harbor in mid-August, and spent the next two months in Hawaiin waters.

On 16 October the Porter departed from Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 16 (Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid), built around the newly repaired battleship South Dakota. This force joined up with TF 17, and the Porter formed part of the destroyer screen for the South Dakota and the Enterprise. The force headed for the Solomon Islands, where the US marines were fighting on Guadalcanal.

On 26 October the American and Japanese carriers clashed in the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. The Porter formed part of the screen around the Enterprise. During the air battles around the Enterprise’s task force, a damaged TBF Avenger was forced to ditch 1,500 yards ahead of the Porter. The aircraft’s torpedo broke loose in the crash landing, and hit the Porter between her No.1 and No.2 firerooms at 1004. The Porter was judged to be beyond saving. Around 300 survivors from her crew were rescued by the Shaw, before at 1337 the Shaw sank her with gunfire.  

Bows view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island Bows view of USS Porter (DD-356) at Mare Island

Some sources credit the Japanese submarine I-21 with sinking the Porter. The US Navy’s Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships actually gives both versions, although the aircraft story is used most often, and with convincing details (including the identity of the aircraft and her crew).

She was struck of the Navy List 2 November 1942.

Porter earned one battle star for World War II service, for the battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.

Displacement (standard)

1,850t (design)

Displacement (loaded)

2,131t (design)

Top Speed

37kts design
38.19kts at 51,127shp at 2,123t on trial (Porter)
38.17kts at 47,271shp at 2,190t on trial (Porter)


2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
50,000shp design


7,800nm at 12kts design
8,710nm at 15kts at 2,157t on trial (Porter)
6,380nm at 12kts at 2,700t wartime
4,080nm at 15kts at 2,700t wartime

Armour - belt


 - deck



381ft 0.5in


36ft 10in


Eight 5in/38 SP in four twin mounts
Eight 21in torpedoes in two quad mounts
Eight 1.1in AA guns in four twin mounts
Two 0.50in AA guns
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down 18 December 1933
Launched 12 December 1935
Commissioned 25 August 1936
Sunk 26 October 1942

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 September 2021), USS Porter (DD-356) ,

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